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THE FOUNDATION EDIT

HOW TO BUILD THE ULTIMATE CAPSULE WARDROBE

Style expert Alexandra Fullerton reveals how Marks & Spencer’s new Foundation Edit can help you streamline your wardrobe

Alexandra Fullerton is the author of new book How to Dress

 

“Did you know that women wear just 20 per cent of their wardrobes 80 per cent of the time?

“So it’s important to make that 20 per cent count, which is why a capsule wardrobe of pared-back pieces – the building blocks of any outfit – is key. Having core classics to turn to when you’re in a rush (drop-offs and deadlines all figure during my day) will make getting dressed a breeze.

“Marks & Spencer’s new Foundation Edit will provide you with these essentials. It contains the key pieces I wear on rotation year in, year out. Then I mix these with seasonal updates, trend-led buys and occasion-specific items.

“I’m a huge fan of high/low mix – where you style one simple piece with something more ‘out there’, like my favourite grey T-shirt worn with a brocade skirt. It’s a stylist’s shortcut to looking ‘styled’ without falling into the trap of being overdressed – my biggest fear!

“The Foundation Edit is the perfect starting point to play with fashion without getting overwhelmed by trends. And if you’re keen to go minimal? The neutral palette means everything works together too, and takes the guesswork out of outfit-planning.

“It’s a collection that chimes perfectly with my shopping philosophy – instead of insisting on black trousers that have to be wide-legged to be on trend, the advice is to simply add in the black pair that suit you best. So, if wide legs suit your shape and lifestyle, great! Otherwise, slim-leg, flared, cropped or pleat-front are all brilliant options. It’s choosing the pieces that work with your life.

“Since I’ve been focused on creating outfits from core classics, it’s impossible to say, ‘I have nothing to wear!’ I still can’t manage to get out the door on time, though…”

THE 12 ITEMS YOU NEED

Jeans
“Unlike other lists of wardrobe ‘essentials’, the Foundation Edit lets you choose your preferred style of denim. Jeans are such a personal thing and when you find ‘the one’ they make you feel on top of the world. Regardless of whether it’s boyfriend, skinny or cropped-flare, ensure they suit your shape before you invite them into your wardrobe.”

A Breton top
“I’ve styled hundreds of striped tops in my career. They add character to any outfit. My favourite way of wearing a striped top is with the high/low mix, jazzing it up with a sequinned skirt.”

Black trousers
“When I need to look polished and professional, I always reach for black trousers. My favourites are high-waisted, tapered and cropped, but search for the style you know will save you in a panicked moment.”

A grey crew-neck jumper
“Whether a sweatshirt for the weekend or cashmere for office hours, make sure you have a grey crew-neck to slip under a blazer, sling on with jeans or team with a statement skirt.”

KEY PIECES

There are jeans for every body shape
£22.50
Embrace classic French style with a Breton
£29.50
Black trousers will always earn their keep
£35
Grey is anything but boring
£75

A black bra and knickers
“The Foundation Edit wouldn’t work without some actual foundation wear! Black is the most versatile colour for underwear – and you never have to worry about it going grey in the wash. Wearing a black bra under a white shirt is a hot styling trick for the current season.”

A white T-shirt
“Plain white tees, whether your preference is for V, scoop or crew-neck, will become your wardrobe saviour. I love them styled simply with my favourite jeans and bright, colourful accessories.”

Leather court shoes
“You know the heel heights you can manage – and the colours that will work best in your wardrobe. But a smart shoe, and a court shape – perhaps in the season’s hot high-cut front – will take you everywhere.”

A trench coat
“No longer just a beige waterproof, trench coats have had a fashion makeover and now come in updated colours and silhouettes as well as the classic style. It will become your trans-seasonal staple.”

KEY PIECES

The perfect bra for smooth lines
£25
Pure cotton at a fantastic price
£3.50
Best foot forward with these leather courts
£65
Belt up for effortless elegance
£79

A white shirt
“Crisp and cool, as well as the perfect choice for chic office style, a shirt works perfectly over a striped top with khaki trousers. Or do unexpected evening wear, combining a white shirt with a luxe skirt.”

A city coat
“When the colder months arrive, your coat is what everyone sees. Choose something smart for ultimate versatility – it will add polish to casual outfits and finish off chic looks.”

A double-breasted blazer
“Smart enough to team with eveningwear (I love mine slung over my shoulders with a floaty, flouncy frock) but cool enough to add edge to jeans with a slogan T-shirt. When you find your perfect fit you’ll want to wear it with everything in your wardrobe.”

Leather ankle boots
“In colder weather I’m still amazed at how much warmer my feet become in an ankle boot – and they suit trousers, jeans or any length skirt.”

Alexandra’s first book, How to Dress, is published by Pavilion and out now.

KEY PIECES

Get shirty in sharp white
£39.50
Ideal to throw on over everything
£35
A linen-blend blazer works for every occasion
£59
You’ll never boot out these beauties
£49.50

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